Category Archives: Nativity

If he was not flesh — and God.

The Circumcision of Christ is commemorated on the eighth day after His Nativity.

If he was not flesh, why was Mary introduced at all? And if he was not God, whom was Gabriel calling Lord?

If he was not flesh, who was lying in the manger? And if he was not God, whom did the Angels come down and glorify?

If he was not flesh, who was wrapped in swaddling clothes? And if he was not God, whom did the shepherds worship?

If he was not flesh, whom did Joseph circumcise? And if he was not God, in whose honour did the star speed through the heavens?

If he was not flesh, whom did Mary suckle? And if he was not God, to whom did the Magi offer gifts?

-St. Ephraim the Syrian

The full quote is here.

Adoration of the Magi by Bassano the Younger

Let the infants leap up.

Today we remember The Holy Innocents, the 14,000 infants slain by King Herod in Bethlehem after Christ’s birth, thus becoming the first martyrs for Christ; and all who died as martyrs for the glory of God by hunger, thirst, freezing, and the sword. This summary of the events is helpful:

The Magi in the East beheld a new star in the heavens, foretelling the Nativity of the King of the Jews. They journeyed immediately to Jerusalem to worship the Child, and the star showed them the way. Having worshiped the divine Infant, they did not return to Jerusalem to Herod, as he had ordered them, but being warned by God in a dream, they went back to their country by another way. Herod finally realized that his scheme to find the Child would not be successful, and he ordered that all the male children two years old and younger at Bethlehem and its surroundings be killed. He thought that the divine Infant, Whom he considered a rival, would be among the dead children. (From Orthodox Wiki)

There is also a reference to Rachel in the Gospel passage telling of the slaughter, a quote from the Prophet Jeremiah:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more.

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
the dominion of the Jews was abolished.
Let the infants slaughtered for Christ leap up,
and let Judea lament;
for a voice was heard in Rama:
Rachel, weeping, bewaileth her children,
as it is written,
for the all-iniquitous Herod
in slaying the babes fulfilled the Scriptures,
filling Judea with innocent blood
and staining the earth red with their blood,
but the Church of the nations
is mystically purified thereby
and is arrayed in beauty.
The Truth is come!
God Who hath been born of the Virgin
hath appeared to those who sit in shadow,
that He may save us all.
-Hymn for the feast

We heard the hymn.

I haven’t baked much yet this Christmas. I may start in a few days, to prepare for a couple of events coming up. I made two of my traditional treats for the cookie platter: Ginger Spice Cookies in a gluten-free version and Cranberry Jellies.

The one new kind I tried so far is from Dorie Greenspan’s book: Double Chocolate Buckwheat Cookies. Here are the last of those, in the cookie tin, at right. They are buttery and chocolaty, but I don’t think I will make them again. I did buy five kinds of Christmas cookies from Trader Joe’s, so we didn’t suffer.

Here are a few scenes from the last busy days:

I also want to share this poem again,  a song from Canada called “The Huron Carol.” Here is a video version of it sung by Tom Jackson.

THE HURON CAROL

’Twas in the moon of wintertime when all the birds had fled,
That Mighty Gitchi Manitou sent angel choirs instead.
Before their light the stars grew dim, and wand’ring hunters heard the hymn:
Jesus, your King, is born;
Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria!

Within a lodge of broken bark the tender Babe was found,
A ragged robe of rabbit skin enwrapped His beauty round.
And as the hunter braves drew nigh, the angels’ song rang loud and high:
Jesus, your King, is born;
Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria!

The earliest moon of winter is not so round and fair
As was the ring of glory on the helpless infant there.
And chiefs from far before Him knelt with gifts of fox and beaver pelt:
Jesus, your King, is born;
Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria!

O children of the forest free, O sons of Manitou,
The Holy Child of earth and heav’n is born today for you.
Come kneel before the radiant Boy, who brings you beauty, peace, and joy:
Jesus, your King, is born;
Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria!

~ Jean de Brébeuf, S.J. (1593-1649)

My grandson Pat and his wife came on Christmas Eve to hike and feast and play games with us for most of the day. This morning Soldier and Joy’s family came to church with me and that was lovely; we came home and had a lovely festal brunch before opening gifts. Christmas Day always surprises me, as the last few days of Advent are like being on a train that speeds up just before getting to the station.

Thank you for your Christmas greetings to me! If you are kneeling before the radiant Boy just now, I’m right there with you. Christ is born!

And the Word became flesh!

“And the Word became flesh!…in order to make us earthly beings into heavenly ones, in order to make sinners into saints; in order to raise us up from corruption into incorruption, from earth to heaven; from enslavement to sin and the devil – into the glorious freedom of children of God; from death – into immortality, in order to make us sons of God and to seat us together with Him upon the Throne as His royal children. O, boundless compassion of God! O, inexpressible wisdom of God! O, great wonder, astounding not only the human mind, but the angelic as well!”

+ St. John of Kronstadt, Sermon on the Nativity of Jesus Christ